The Sidibé works are framed in black and matted and hung in the back viewing room. There are a total of 4 works, each of which is comprised of between 15 and 22 individual gelatin silver prints (approximately 3x2 each), pasted onto a cardboard poster and annotated by the artist in pen. These vintage works were made between 1966 and 1968. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Fifty-One Fine Art Photography in Antwerp (here). (Installation shots at right.)
Comments/Context: The best of African photography doesn't find its way to New York as often as it should, so we do our best to get out to see it when it does make a rare appearance. Private dealer Parker Stephenson has smartly paired images by J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere from Nigeria and Malick Sidibé from Mali in this intimate show, highlighting two bodies of work that have parallels with the conceptual typologies that have become commonplace in contemporary photography.
While most collectors are already familiar with Malick Sidibé's funky 1960s studio portraits, complete with their eye-popping stripes and patterns, the posters on view here are a reminder of another facet of his work. As an active working photographer, Sidibé often attended parties and dances at all kinds of social clubs and venues, making casual pictures and simple portraits of the guests. The next day, he would gather the prints together on a poster outside his studio, complete with numbers underneath, so people could come by and order reprints of their favorites. These hand crafted maquettes are arrays of small black and white images, all the same size. Like his more formal studio portraits, the images capture the contagious energy of youth: the mix of traditional and Western dress, the obsession with new music (many people are shown holding up album covers), and the sheer joy of lively dancing and exuberant joking around. While these inadvertent typologies lack a rigorous conceptual construct, the multi-image display approach underscores the nuances of cultural change that were taking place.
Collector's POV: The larger Ojeikere images are priced at $2500 each, while the smaller prints are $1000 each or $4000 for the grid of four. The Sidibé posters range between $18000 and $22000 each. Ojeikere's photographs have little or no recent secondary market history, so gallery retail is likely the only option for collectors interested in his work at this point. Sidibé's later print portraits and club scenes can be found at auction from time to time, ranging from $2000 to $5000 in the past few years. These vintage maquettes are however much more rare. Sidibé is officially represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York (here).
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Through February 26th